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Ectoparasitic chigger mites on large oriental vole (Eothenomys miletus) across southwest, China

Peng, Pei-Ying, Guo, Xian-Guo, Song, Wen-Yu, Hou, Peng, Zou, Yun-Ji, Fan, Rong
Parasitology research 2016 v.115 no.2 pp. 623-632
Eothenomys, Leeuwenhoekiidae, Leptotrombidium, chiggers, ectoparasites, fever, hosts, interspecific competition, rare species, scrub typhus, species diversity, voles, China
An investigation of chigger mites on the large oriental vole, Eothenomys miletus (Rodentia: Cricetidae), was conducted between 2001 and 2013 at 39 localities across southwest China, and 2463 individuals of the vole hosts were captured and examined, which is a big host sample size. From the body surface of E. miletus, 49,850 individuals of chigger mites were collected, and they were identified as comprising 175 species, 13 genera, and 3 subfamilies in 2 families (Trombiculidae and Leeuwenhoekiidae). The 175 species of chigger mites from such a single rodent species (E. miletus) within a certain region (southwest China) extremely exceeded all the species of chigger mites previously recorded from multiple species of hosts in a wide region or a whole country in some other countries, and this suggests that E. miletus has a great potential to harbor abundant species of chigger mites on its body surface. Of 175 mite species, Leptotrombidium scutellare was the most dominant species, which has been proved as one of the main vectors of scrub typhus and the potential vector of haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) in China. The patchiness index (m*/m) was used to measure the spatial patterns of the dominant chigger mite species, and all the three dominant mite species (L. scutellare, Leptotrombidium sinicum, and Helenicula simena) showed aggregated distributions among the different host individuals. The coefficient of association (V) was adopted to measure the interspecies interaction between the dominant mite species and a slightly positive association existed between L. scutellare and L. sinicum (V = 0.28, P < 0.01), which implies that these two mite species can co-exist on the same species of the host, E. miletus. The tendency curve of species abundance showed that the number of chigger mite species gradually decreased with the increase of mite individuals, and this revealed that most chigger mite species were rare with very few individuals, but few dominant species had abundant individuals. The species-sample relationship indicated that the number of chigger mite species increased with the increase of the host samples. The results suggest that a big host sample size over a wide realm of geographical regions is needed in the field investigation in order to obtain a true picture of species diversity and species composition.